Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Congress finally acknowledged that employment discrimination against the disabled continues to be a serious problem in the United States. Approximately forty-three million Americans are disabled. As many as two-thirds of disabled individuals of working age are unemployed, and half of all adults with disabilities have household incomes of fifteen thousand dollars or less. Although most unemployed disabled individuals depend on insurance payments or government benefits for support, polls reveal that a majority would rather work than depend on such assistance. The ADA provides a comprehensive plan for main-streaming disabled individuals into American society. Congress drafted the various provisions of the ADA-covering transportation public accommodations, telecommunications, and employment discriminationl--to remove the physical and attitudinal barriers preventing qualified individuals with disabilities from obtaining employment." Not all disabilities, however, are considered equally worthy of protection; the ADA specifically excludes some conditions recognized as "handicaps" under its predecessor, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.